The Wards of Sayth
(note: this will be moved to its own section eventually)
Kuro of the Dinns: Tribesman from the Dinn Clan, traveling to Yz to discover the fate of clansmen who had been captured and sold into slavery. Greatsword-wielding fighter (formerly a 4e Barbarian)
Alanna Lehman: Half-elf illusionist and part-time cat burglar who met Kuro at a tavern and had taken pity upon the bewildered barbarian. Wizard of the Illusion Magic School.
Robert Wagner: Half-elf policeman from the Yz Trade District, assigned to investigate the allegations of slave-trade made by Kuro. DEX-focused sword-and-board fighter (formerly a 4e Battlemind)
Kieros: Human con-man who had managed to get caught up in the criminal dealings of the major Tiefling houses of Yz, and was rescued by the party. An archer cleric who worships his own inner sense of luck (formerly a 4e Bard).
During their investigations into the fate of Kuro’s clansmen, the party was approached by the head of one of Yz’s ruling households, Jarid Domari. Jarid promised the party assistance with locating the slaves if the party would infiltrate a compound of his political rivals, the Alrasharii, and free an associate of his from their dungeons.
The party managed to infiltrate the compound, and discovered that the Alrasharii had indeed enslaved some of Kuro’s clansmen. The party set about to rescue the clansmen as well as the Domari associate, breaking into a magical vault to steal a control rod that would break the enchantments imprisoning the associate. Their actions, however, triggered an alarm, and the party’s liberation attempt was discovered.
At the last moment before the party was captured, a mysterious robed benefactor showed up, killing the guards while the party made their escape. The party regrouped, and reported back to Jarid, the associate and Ormus (the least injured clansman) with them. Upon hearing of their benefactor, Jarid became enraged, accusing the party of theft, and began to attack them. The benefactor once again made his entrance, freezing time and opening a portal for the party to escape. After taking some papers and a few items from Jarid’s desk, the party fled through the portal.
March 24th Session:
The session began as the party leapt through the escape portal provided to them. The experience was disorienting, but Alanna was able to discern that the portal sent them traveling at least partway through extraplanar space. Exiting the portal, the party found themselves in a cold forest clearing, at the base of an immense, weathered rectangular stone. The stone appeared to rest in a crater of scorched earth, and no vegetation grew within several yards of it.
While the party gathered their wits, Ormus grew alarmed at their new location. The stone, he claimed, was a Lathshar– a Nameless Stone– that was associated with evil spirits. These stones, he said, induced insanity in living beings, and could kill those who came too close. The party started to run, but as they did, roots snaked out from the ground, restraining Kieros and inducing in him a nightmare-wracked enchanted slumber. Ormus rushed back to Kieros, and performed a shamanic blood ritual to allow the party to enter Kieros’ dreams and rescue him from the psychic assault.
Linking themselves through the ritual, the party projected their spirits into a realm between the physical and dream worlds. In this nexus realm, the party found Kieros, trapped in an impossible geometric construct of psychic energy, and beset by nightmare spirits. Kieros’ psyche had been fractured into three parts, each locked into it’s own nightmare. Judging from the expressions apparent on the fragments of Kieros’ psychic-selves, he was suffering from nightmares of despair, of terror, and of temptation.
As Ormus began to disrupt the first nightmare– the nightmare of terror– the nightmare manifested itself in a being of elemental psychic energy and attacked the party. After fending off the fiend, the party was drawn into Kieros’ nightmare. They found themselves on a nighttime city street, watching as a tavern was consumed by flames. Kieros was there, being restrained from rushing into the burning building by a crowd of faceless onlookers. From inside the building, a woman’s voice was yelling “Sol! Sol! Save me!” Curiously, another Kieros was also observing the scene, a look of terror and desperation on his face, as if he were watching a terrible memory but unable to interact with it.
When the party stepped into the dream, the observer Kieros suddenly found himself able to act. He rushed into the burning building, towards the sound of the woman’s voice. Warding themselves against the fire, the party followed him, with Wagner pausing to attempt to interrogate the other Kieros. Wagner found the other Kieros to be nearly insensible with maddess, and inadvertently let him escape his restraints and run into the burning building.
Inside the building, Kieros and the party found a bewildering sight: every seat in the tavern was filled with identical blond-haired women, each wearing a red scarf and each staring directly at Kieros yelling “Sol! Sol! Save me!” As the party stood there perplexed, the crazed Kieros burst in, running up and grabbing each woman. As he touched the women, they dissolved into mist. Realizing that the images were just illusions, the first Kieros ran through the tavern to the stairs leading up to the second-story rooms.
The party rushed after Kieros again, and found themselves running through an endless hallway, never getting closer to the screams from the woman. Luckily, angered by her inability to get through to (either) Kieros, Alanna was able to pierce the dream’s illusion, and allowed the party to finally approach the room where the woman’s screams were coming from. Bursting into the room, the party found the same blond-haired, red-scarved woman standing there, completely wreathed in flames, and seeming swathed in a mist of inky darkness.
Seeing the woman standing there, Kieros rushed towards her, trying to save her from the flames. As he drew near, however, tendrils of the darkness flowed outward and into him. Upon seeing this, the party realized the darkness was the embodiment of the nightmare itself, and they launched an attack. After a brief, but intense battle, the party managed to dispel the nightmare when Wagner fueled all the psychic energy he could muster into enhancing his sword into epic proportions. Unfortunately, thanks to the nightmare’s insidious influence, the victory came at significant psychic cost to Kieros. As the nightmare faded, so did the flames, and Kieros was left holding the burnt body of the woman in his arms. “I’m sorry May, it was all my fault!” he wept, as both he and the dream began to fade away.
The party, minus Kieros, found themselves back in the nexus plane, slightly battered but no worse for the wear. Ormus was nearby, panting, and informed them that they managed to dispel the nightmare’s energy, and restore part of Kieros’ psyche to his spirit. Wasting no time, Ormus and the party focused their energies on a second nightmare– the nightmare of despair. Like before, after protecting Ormus from the psychic manifestation, the party was once again drawn into Kieros’ nightmare.
This time, the party found themselves in the foyer of a well furnished house, along with a clearly apprehensive Kieros. Nearby, a doctor quitely confered with a butler, shaking his head and looking forlorn. In solemn tones, the butler invited Kieros and the party to pay their final respects to the mistress of the house. The party followed Kieros to a bedroom, where a sickly looking woman lay abed, surrounded by an older, weeping man, and several other faceless people dressed in black. When Kieros entered the room, the man spun about and accused Kieros of “shaming the family” by bringing “your filthy friends to witness your mother’s final moments.” Outraged, the man forced Kieros and the party from the room, but not before Alanna was able to glamour herself and avoid his attention.
As the man moved from the bed, both Kieros and Alanna saw a shadowy form hunched over the bed, with tendrils of inky darkness flowing from its body into the heads of both the man and woman. Alarmed, Alanna tried to incapacitate the dream creature with a sleep spell, but succeeded only in placing the faceless people into a deep slumber. Kieros, not realizing what he was seeing, tried to bargain with man, who was revealed to be Kieros’ father, to let him into the room to pay his final respects to his mother. The father refused Kieros still, and told Kieros that he could no longer forgive the shame Kieros had brung, and disowned Kieros on the spot.
Frustrated by Kieros’ inability to understand the nature of the nightmare, the party attempted to intervene. Wagner tried to force his way past Kieros and his father, and when rebuffed tried insulting Kieros to snap him out of the dreams effects. This action earned him naught but Kieros’ ire, and using the logic of the dream Kieros sealed Wagner’s lips and rooted him to the ground. Alanna, realizing the futility of appealing to Kieros while he was in the grip of the dream, instead attacked the nightmare directly.
The nightmare attacked back. It released a wave of psychic energy that filled Alanna’s mind with regret and doubt. Filled with confusing mental imagery, Alanna wasn’t able to focus her mind further, not even realizing the psychic attack for what it was. The attack, however, did finally allow Kieros to see past the nightmare’s manipulations, and the battle against the creature began in earnest. Kuro, no longer worried about harming his friend, rushed into the room and attacked the nightmare with a swing of his greatsword. Unfortunately, his swing missed, and ended up cleaving Kieros’ mother in two. Ghoulishly, the nightmare began animating the severed torso of Kieros’ mother. Kieros’ father, also under the control of the spirit, also started attacking.
The battle started of poorly for the party. Beset by the nightmare and its puppets, the party quickly sustained debilitating psychic damage. Finally, helped in part by some timely assistance of the still mute yet enraged Wagner, the party was able to dispel both the nightmare and the twisted doppelgangers of Kieros’ parents. Like before, however, the effort inflicted deep psychic wounds on Kieros, and his psyche began to crack under the strain. With Wagner both unable and, still recovering from the strain of battle, unwilling to help Kieros, and Kuro unable to break through Kieros’ grief, it fell to Alanna to help her teammate. Herself now also freed from the nightmare’s psychic assault, she glamoured herself once more into a vision of Kieros’ mother. Tenderly embracing Kieros, she whispered words of forgiveness and solace into his ear, and brought his psyche back from the brink of collapse. With that, the dream once more began to fade, and the party found themselves returned to the nexus plane.